San Francisco Chronicle
Forget Mickey Mouse
Oakland Ballet stages a darker and creepier "Sorcerer's Apprentice"
By Michael Wade Simpson
Surely the most unusual costumes to be seen on the local stage this year
were worn by Jennifer Tierney and other members of the Oakland Ballet
in a production of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" at the Calvin Simmons Theatre
over the weekend.
Tierney, playing a broom that comes to life , was in toe shoes, a wood colored unitard and had broomsticks for arms that reached to the ground. The crutchlike extra extra limbs added tot the creepy quotient of this darker version of a tale made famous in the animated Disney film "Fantasia," but also offered an opportunity for some fascinating dancing.
Imagine a grand jete that doesn't go anywhere, a leap that takes off and
then hangs in the air, held up between two long wooden supports. The broom
costume (designed by Tracy Christensen) is reminiscent of one of the people-powered
giraffes in the Broadway hit "The Lion King"; but the addition of the
shoes, ballet technique and real dancing take the device way beyond image.
The choreographer Scott Rink, who created this piece for the Minnesota
Dance Theatre and American Ballet Theatre Studio company in 2003, also
scores a coup de theatre: when the Apprentice tries to get rid of his
"problem" by attacking Tierney with an ax (a moment of questionable taste
for young children, even if it's hidden behind a low scrim), he ends up
multiplying the original problem - five more sets of broom arms suddenly
rise from behind the scrim and head downstage to get him.
The piece is nightmarish to a certain extent - with dark lighting and
fog, not to mention the huge puppet like Sorcerer played by three dancers
in a gigantic, gauzy robe (Paunika Jones is constantly lifted and launched
around the stage by two semihidden attendants, Joseph Copley and Matthew
Linzer). The Apprentice, on the other hand, is an aw-shucks, all-American
goof as portrayed by Gabriel Williams, who takes a moment to launch into
mega -pirouette phrases whenever possible, but mostly is kept busy reacting
to brooms to dance much. As the room starts to fill with water (effectively
suggested by lengths of fabric "pouring "out of buckets that the broom
dancers drag around the stage), there is a clever, moralistic reversal,
a revision in the narrative by the choreographer.